PALS Meeting Minutes
August 30, 2023 9:30 a.m.
Virtual Meeting using Zoom
Open Forum is an opportunity for participants to come together and discuss a variety of topics, offer resources, and ask questions related to special education.
Anxiety & The New School Year
With the start of the new school year it seems that we are inundated with reports of students stress and anxiety over returning to school. Whether it is UPMC's new Pediatric Behavioral Health Walk-in Clinic (YAY!) or reports of new calming rooms in local high schools, the talk of stress and anxiety in children feeling like it is everywhere. This brought us back to last month's meeting when we discussed this very topic. See the July Meeting Minutes with a variety of resources on the subject.
This lead us to a discussion around stress and anxiety in children as it relates to school. The conversation is always about how we intent to help children with their stress and anxiety without discussing the why as it relates to school. If the why (related to school) is discussed the response seems to always be the same; students must accomplish A-Z in a given subject within a given year to prove they have learned the material required so the teacher can relay it to the school, the school to the district, the district to the state, the state to the feds and ultimate, IT'S ALL ABOUT THE NUMBERS, not the students. As one parent put it, "It's like constantly poking a student with a sharp stick and wondering why they are mad." (hope I got that right) It is the ultimate hamster wheel; right up their with social media. Yes, a quality education is of the upmost importance. Does that mean at any cost? Maybe we're right and maybe we're wrong, and maybe it's time for a paradigm shift in the way we educate children PreK-12.
Related to shifts in education, look at Upper St. Clair School's District and their decision to switch the start times of all students, giving their high school students a later start. We have known for decades that research shows our school start times are flip-flopped, with older students needing to start later and younger students being able to start earlier. USC starts everyone later, but the primary take away is that teens are able to sleep later. In a small victory, USC jumped off the hamster wheel by choosing their students over the potential obstacles such a move could make to athletics, clubs, and other after school activities. In a related example Fox Chapel Area School District offers families struggling with excessive tardiness the ability to enroll in FCAO a hybrid model of in-person and online classes which can allow a student to arrive late to school while being on time for their in-persona classes. Reports indicate that in some instances this means a high school student arriving at 9:40 a.m..
We received an e-mail earlier this month from the Allegheny County Office of Developmental Support providing a variety of opportunities for those with ACCESS cards. Here are links to the MA Perks being offered:
PA ABLE Event
PA ABLE Savings Program accounts give people with qualified disabilities and their families a tax-free way to save and pay for disability-related expenses while maintaining important benefits. PA ABLE accounts help people save private funds to support health, independence, and quality of life. There are three upcoming Webinar from PA ABLE. Clicking on the image will take you to the PA ABLE online events page where you can register for all three individually.
Supplemental Activities Other Than Sports
We had a parent looking for activities outside of sports that give a middle school aged child opportunities to socialize with similarly aged children. Here are a few things we found:
You may also find programs at https://www.alleghenychildcare.org .
Available in hard back, paperback, and audio.
Next Meeting: September 27, 2023 9:30 a.m. Virtual Meeting using Zoom.
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